Monday 22nd - Sunday 28th
Ok so this week started off in the Classroom again, we studied mammals today which was alright because we were finally able to apply the knowledge that we are gaining. Then after lunch we watched a DVD about a lion pride and how they learnt to kill from a young age before being chucked out by the male and left to fend for themselves. It was kind of sad when some of them died etc but then I also felt really sad when they took down this old elephant. So yeah that was basically the day so the evening was spent writing up the notes from the lecture ready for the test on Friday. I made a huge phylogenetic tree of all the mammal orders and classes which was so big we had to stick it up by the rafters!
On Tuesday we went to a part of the reserve called 'hunter's pan'. It is a big open area where vehicles driving in and out had caused soil erosion and the rains had created big rills and gullies. Under Andy's supervision we spent the morning filling in these gullies with chopped up trees (mostly evil bloody**** thorns which when you get stuck in is a bloody nightmare to get out of!) and big rocks. I liked filling up the gullies with rocks seeing as they were a lot less painful than getting stuck in a**** thorn tree, which happened on several occasions. The boys tended to enjoy the work with the saws and panga's for some reason :P and us girls tended to pick up the rocks and newly sawn up branches, so things worked out pretty well. So anyway after a long and very fulfilling morning's work we all headed back to camp for lunch. It was such a lovely experience, actually getting to be part of proper conservation management programs. Andy has a lot more projects that he wants us all to help out with, including fixing an old dam which I think is going to be great. It definitely made me feel like a proper game ranger today and I can't wait to get stuck in to some more work!
Wednesday was alright, we spent the morning in the classroom again learning about Ethology (animal behaviour) which was very interesting, and I enjoyed a great deal seeing as I did so much animal behaviour at University. Anyway so after lunch we had our tree presentations in the hide which was lovely to finally have an actual classroom lecture outside. I don't see why we aren't out in the bush more often. It is basically one giant classroom after all, and far more interesting than a power point presentation!
Thursday turned out to be a bit of a disaster, I was to be driving today and because I am pretty short behind the wheel I decided to take some cushions with me. This turned out to be even worse however when the first stop we came to, I turned around to talk to everyone and pulled my back. I trapped a nerve or something because it was really hard to push the clutch in without it sending shooting pains up my back. However I pushed on and eventually came up to the first donga of the day…I stalled three bloody times! I just had no idea how much you have to push down the accelerator to get the 4 x 4 moving! Still I got it right in the end and after that my driving went pretty smoothly. At our tea break we stopped and I bent down to get a tea cup out the hot box and realized I could not move so Evan took over the rest of the drive for me while I sat hunched like an old lady hunched in the passenger seat. We didn't see a lot of game, just the usual warthogs and such.
That afternoon the group then went on a walk with Sebastiaan and I stayed behind because I couldn't really walk. I didn't do much just read some revision notes for the exam on Saturday and then had a nap with a hot water bottle on my back. When everyone got back I then had my driving de-brief with JP and Margaux and we chatted about how I can improve on my driving and also that I will be set extra work so as to help prepare me for when I do my level 2 which is going to be really helpful. JP also arranged for people to go out in the 4 x 4's on Friday morning, one on one so that he can teach us to use low range and diff lock etc properly which was the most helpful thing ever!
On Friday morning Katy, Heli and I went with JP up to a dodgy bit of road called Cindy's way and Jackalberry drive and we took it in turns to drive up and down all the roads going in and out of drainage lines and how to drive through the sand at the bottom of them etc. We were then dropped back at the house where another group went out with him and the three of us got back to our revision. The rest of the day was spent revising, apart from when they brought back the test scores. I only got 75%. Not too impressed, but seeing as each mark was worth 2% and a lot of the questions were not what was in the revision material,, think we all managed to pull things off pretty well! Right so yes back to revision it was, most of it being sat in front of the polygenetic tree stuck on the wall trying to absorb enough latin names to then allow myself to go to bed. It was pretty late before that happened!
Thank goodness the test on Saturday was not too bad! It still a silly exam what with many questions not having anything to do with the reading material, but I think it went better than the ecology one anyway! So yes a bunch of us went to town as usual and I finally got pick up my parcel!!! Mum is so sweet, she sent me a load of warm clothes and a book with a chocolate bar to enjoy with it! It's so nice getting things from home, knowing that mum and dad are still looking out for me. So a bunch of us went to Sleepers - our apparent weekend hide out - and Candace, Dan, Ben, Katy, Spencer, Riaan, Jacques and I enjoyed a lovely lunch followed by a couple of drinks before heading back home for the usual afternoon's antics. When we got back Katy seemed a little worse for ware, this was apparent after the attempted boules game that did not end to well for Katy and Heli's team what with Katy being able to only drop the ball. It was pretty funny though and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.
The evening proceeded with a braai and drinks. We were joined by a couple of visitors that evening including Andy and little Maya as well as Bernie's nephew Taro, who arrived her to do a couple of months working while on his gap year. So it was pretty fun everyone telling him all the stories of what animals we see here and what an amazing time he is going to have. Andy then got a little happy shall we say and kept shouting 'scrum down' at which point him nad Malcolm grab me from either side and attempt to scrum other people. At first this was a bit of a shock, then it just went on to being a little painfull seeing as neither of the crouched much and I ended up being lifted off the floor instead. Yup definitely prefer playing in the back line! So the night carried on to the point where most people had gone to bed but Malcolm, Katy and Spencer soldiered on while Candace, Ben and I looked on in anguish at the Tequila. We kept chatting around the fire until around 3am when finally it ended with Malcolm falling asleep at the table and marmite on toast being consumed. It always feels like a proper uni night when after drinking we have marmite n toast before bed!
Not much happened the next day, except we woke to find Malcolm had vacated his chair at the table and moved onto it instead during the night. It apparently gave Ulla, Stefan and Anthony a bit of a shock in the morning when they left early to go to Kruger for the day and came across him on the table. I got up around 9am and after some breakfast Candace and I snuggled up on the blow up chair and accidentally fell asleep. We woke up again around 2pm! No-one thought to wake us up or anything! So we eventually got up and showered before attempting to do some work. That evening I watched some of 'The Pacific' with Malcolm and Ben, while we ate potjike for dinner, which was really nice. I think it some sort of South African stew cooked over hot coals for four hours. It was nice, and I even tried some of the oxtail one! Never have I eaten oxtail before. I was so impressed although not that keen so stuck with the veggie one which was delicious! So yes it was a pretty relaxed day as usual, and a good thing because we have to get up so early for booking our driving test tomorrow. I believe we are leaving at 5am just so that we can go and hand in a form to book our test. How crazy is that?! So yeah best get some sleep, I gather that it will be a long day tomorrow.